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Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution

24 Feb

Our body must get the Omega-3 fatty acids from food. Foods high in Omega-3 include fish, vegetable oils, nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds, flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables.

Omega-3 fats are special because they provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. Omega-3 fats have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.

Omega-3 fats are a key family of polyunsaturated fats. There are three main omega-3s:

  • (EPA) and (DHA) come mainly from fish, so they are sometimes called marine omega-3s.
  • (ALA), the most common omega-3 fatty acid in most Western diets, is found in vegetable oils and nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds and flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables, and some animal fat, especially in grass-fed animals.

The human body generally uses ALA for energy, and conversion into EPA and DHA is very limited. So you really need to eat fish to obtain the healthy benefits of the marine omega-3.  teriyaki-salmon-hl-523893-x[1]

Due to the benefits of marine omega-3 fatty acids, it is important to eat fish or other seafood one to two times per week, particularly fatty (dark meat) fish that are richer in EPA and DHA. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant and nursing mothers. From the third trimester until the second year of life, a developing child needs a steady supply of DHA to form the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Many women shy away from eating fish because of concerns that mercury and other possible contaminants might harm their babies, yet the evidence for harm from lack of omega-3 fats is far more consistent, and a balance of benefit vs. risk is easily obtained.

Teriyaki Salmon with Zucchini

Ingredients

Low-sodium teriyaki sauce

2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets

Sesame seeds

2 small zucchini, thinly sliced

4 scallions, chopped

Canola oil

Preparation

Combine 5 tablespoons teriyaki sauce and fish in a zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate 20 minutes. Toast sesame seeds in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and set aside. Drain fish, discarding marinade. Add fish to skillet, and cook 5 minutes. Turn and cook for 5 more minutes over medium-low heat. Remove from skillet, and keep warm. Add the zucchini, scallions, and 2 teaspoons oil to skillet. Sauté 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Stir in 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.

Yield: Serves 2 (serving size: 1 salmon fillet and about 1 cup zucchini)

Calories per serving: 376, Fat per serving: 16g, Saturated fat per serving: 3g, Monounsaturated fat per serving: 6g, Polyunsaturated fat per serving: 7g, Protein per serving: 40g, Carbohydrates per serving: 11g, Fiber per serving: 3g, Cholesterol per serving: 87mg, Iron per serving: 5mg

Sodium per serving: 375mg, Calcium per serving: 53mg

Recipe from health.com

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